Three Who Changed
On Facebook, I had recently posted a Frank Zappa quote, about how you can't change another's mind.
I was frankly surprised by the number of responses.
Quickly, I recalled these three persons I know of who did change their minds.
George Orwell began his writing career as a democratic socialist. That changed after he fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). What eventually happened was a civil war within a civil war, with the Communists turning on their fellow socialists in a quest for supreme power. Orwell and his wife barely escaped with their lives. A number of his socialist comrades were caught and summarily executed by their communist brethren. His experiences were put down in his novel “Homage to Catalonia.” While he never gave up on socialist ideals, he became starkly aware of the tendency of those ideals to descend into totalitarianism. Many of his later essays detail the psychology of why this happens. “Animal Farm,” the novel that brought him international acclaim, was about the Soviet betrayal of those ideals. "1984" was a novel about what could happen if totalitarianism were allowed to flourish unchecked.
James Burnham, a radical American socialist and contemporary of Orwell, who outlived him by thirty-seven years, was another intellectual who came to understand the flaw of communism, so much to the point that he eventually embraced conservative philosophy. The adoption of his philosophies are considered to have laid the groundwork that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union and the freeing of East Europe from decades of oppression. For this work, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
For years, Malcolm X had embraced the philosophies of the black-separatist organization, the Nation of Islam (NOI), and considered its founder, Elijah Muhammad, to be a living prophet. (NOI is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being a hate group). This changed in 1964 when he visited Mecca. After interacting with different cultures, Malcolm stated, “I have met blonde-haired, blued-eyed men I could call my brothers.” He had a new view on integration. As with Martin Luther King, he now had a message of hope for all races. In 1965. he was assassinated by three members of the NOI.